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Challenges to the Idea of a Federal
Philippines
Hans Siedel Stiftung-PPI Seminar
VIP Hotel, CDO
8 September 2018
Atty. Romel Regalado Bagares
Executive Director (on sabbatical)
Center for International Law
Preliminary Remarks
• My remarks are not a rejection of the Federal idea per
se;
• Rather, they point to key challenges to making a good
idea into concrete reality
• The challenges may be just a question of when, rather
than being wholly ideological in orientation
• Three main points: philosophical/foundational, pre-
conditions, economic
I. Philosophical and Foundational
Challenges
• Johannes Althusius (1557-
1638)
• German jurist from Emden
who was a colleague of Jean
Calvin and Theodor Beza
• Wrote Politica (1603), which
is considered the first
systematic exposition of the
philosophical and legal
foundations of federalism
Philosophical and Foundational
Challenges
• government from below
• “bottom up” versus “top
down”
KEY IDEAS
• politics as symbiotic
• the idea of consociatio –
strong mutual social and
political bonds founded
on mutual
communication on many
fronts and across groups,
bodies, associations, and
not just the government
Philosophical and Foundational
Challenges
• gradual and natural development
and not an arbitrary imposition
(the development of a political
culture friendly to a federated
state)
• European experience took a long
time from Althusius’ era (17th
century)
TAKE AWAY:
consociatio: federalism unites, not
divides: but current political
situation is toxic
SWS survey: 75 % of Pinoys not
aware of federalism (March 2018)
To begin with: is this “awareness”
equivalent to a deep understanding?
Where is the requisite of mutual
communication?
II. Preconditions
• These should all happen
before the shift!
• a government of equitable
opportunities and
meritocracy, not an
oligarchy
• NEDA itself proposes a 15-
year transition period
• IDEALLY: at least a
“gestation” period for a
generation (20-25 years)?
Requisite political and
electoral reforms
• Anti-dynasty law
• Campaign finance reform
law
• guarantees for a
development and growth of
a strong, genuine political
party system against
capture of federal states by
local oligarchies
III. Economic Challenges
• Mandanas case (2018), where
the Supreme Court held that the
IRA should be computed from all
national taxes imposed
• Arrears total P 500 billion (1992-
2012, or an additional P 50 billion
per year)
• seems to undercut arguments
that federalism is necessary to
bring more economic gains to
LGUs
• What may be needed is only a
more equitable distribution and
utilization of income, which will
only require amendments to the
Local Government Code
P 300 billion (DOF)
versus
P 15 billion (DILG)
• Which is which? It shows the
proposal was not given proper
thought
• BAD TIMING – 6.7 percent
inflation
• Build, Build, Build project –
where will the government get
the money to pay for the
gargantuan costs?
• Example: Multi-Level, Multi-Court
system provided in the draft
Federal Constitution.
CONCLUSION
“And so was born, as it were,
the need for communicating
necessary and useful things,
which communication was not
possible except in social and
political life. God therefore
willed that each need the
service and aid to others in
order that friendship would
bind all together, and no one
would consider another to be
valueless.”
-Johannes Althusius, Politica
(1603)

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Challenges to the Idea of a Federal Philippines

  • 1. Challenges to the Idea of a Federal Philippines Hans Siedel Stiftung-PPI Seminar VIP Hotel, CDO 8 September 2018 Atty. Romel Regalado Bagares Executive Director (on sabbatical) Center for International Law
  • 2. Preliminary Remarks • My remarks are not a rejection of the Federal idea per se; • Rather, they point to key challenges to making a good idea into concrete reality • The challenges may be just a question of when, rather than being wholly ideological in orientation • Three main points: philosophical/foundational, pre- conditions, economic
  • 3. I. Philosophical and Foundational Challenges • Johannes Althusius (1557- 1638) • German jurist from Emden who was a colleague of Jean Calvin and Theodor Beza • Wrote Politica (1603), which is considered the first systematic exposition of the philosophical and legal foundations of federalism
  • 4. Philosophical and Foundational Challenges • government from below • “bottom up” versus “top down” KEY IDEAS • politics as symbiotic • the idea of consociatio – strong mutual social and political bonds founded on mutual communication on many fronts and across groups, bodies, associations, and not just the government
  • 5. Philosophical and Foundational Challenges • gradual and natural development and not an arbitrary imposition (the development of a political culture friendly to a federated state) • European experience took a long time from Althusius’ era (17th century) TAKE AWAY: consociatio: federalism unites, not divides: but current political situation is toxic SWS survey: 75 % of Pinoys not aware of federalism (March 2018) To begin with: is this “awareness” equivalent to a deep understanding? Where is the requisite of mutual communication?
  • 6. II. Preconditions • These should all happen before the shift! • a government of equitable opportunities and meritocracy, not an oligarchy • NEDA itself proposes a 15- year transition period • IDEALLY: at least a “gestation” period for a generation (20-25 years)? Requisite political and electoral reforms • Anti-dynasty law • Campaign finance reform law • guarantees for a development and growth of a strong, genuine political party system against capture of federal states by local oligarchies
  • 7. III. Economic Challenges • Mandanas case (2018), where the Supreme Court held that the IRA should be computed from all national taxes imposed • Arrears total P 500 billion (1992- 2012, or an additional P 50 billion per year) • seems to undercut arguments that federalism is necessary to bring more economic gains to LGUs • What may be needed is only a more equitable distribution and utilization of income, which will only require amendments to the Local Government Code P 300 billion (DOF) versus P 15 billion (DILG) • Which is which? It shows the proposal was not given proper thought • BAD TIMING – 6.7 percent inflation • Build, Build, Build project – where will the government get the money to pay for the gargantuan costs? • Example: Multi-Level, Multi-Court system provided in the draft Federal Constitution.
  • 8. CONCLUSION “And so was born, as it were, the need for communicating necessary and useful things, which communication was not possible except in social and political life. God therefore willed that each need the service and aid to others in order that friendship would bind all together, and no one would consider another to be valueless.” -Johannes Althusius, Politica (1603)